This article is part of Football FanCast’s Pundit View series, which provides opinion and analysis on recent quotes from journalists, pundits, players and managers…
As quoted by The Chronicle, Isaac Hayden has backed Newcastle teammate Miguel Almiron to eventually deliver the goods for the side.
Having arrived from MLS outfit Atlanta United in the January transfer window, Almiron is still searching for his first goal in a Newcastle shirt.
Despite his early struggles, Hayden has insisted the Paraguay international will come good, and admitted his excellent performances in training make the entire situation all the more “weird”.
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He said: “He’s massively appreciated by everyone else in the dressing room. He’s got bundles of energy. Sometimes, you give him the ball in a difficult area and he can get past three players to break up the pitch.
“Him and Atsu are probably the only two players in the team that can do that. He’s massively important to us, especially in terms of getting us up the pitch and making sure that Jo is not isolated.
“It’s a weird situation because in training he scores every day. In the pre-match routines, he scores with pretty much every shot. He’s a fantastic worker for the team. I think everyone can see that. He runs his heart out for the team every week. Defensively, he’s very good, and going forward he creates chances and causes a nuisance. I think the goal will come.”
In his final season in the USA, Almiron racked up 13 goals and 13 assists as he helped Atlanta to major success. What contributed the most to his incredible goal contributions were the under-lying numbers. The 25-year-old averaged 3.8 shots, 2.1 key passes and 2.2 dribbles per game in that sublime campaign.
In contrast, his stint in English football has seen those numbers drop off dramatically. In the opening four games of the Premier League this season, Almiron has managed just 1.5 shots, 0.5 key passes and 1.3 dribbles per game. The Magpies’ use of the Paraguayan as a left-winger hasn’t helped matters, as he was at his most dominant in the MLS in a more familiar attacking midfield role.
This season, Steve Bruce has used him both as a second striker to support big-money signing Joelinton, and wide on the right. But if Newcastle have serious intentions of getting him back amongst the goals again, then they simply have to use him in a central position.